Very informative. If you were oversold on a given night and only half the C5 rooms were occupied would you release the remaining rooms to other guests even though C5 paid for them?
Oversells are like a countdown in the hotel industry. By 10:00PM if I have 3 normal arrivals and 3 crew I run the risk of walking people. Most of the time I'd walk regular guests vs. the crew. Part of it is compassion because crew arriving late in the evening for an overnight are just wiped. We've had to walk C5 a couple of times but they were put at a hotel next door, still had breakfast with us, and we gave them each 10,000 loyalty points so they were happy. We always work with crew scheduling before we do it.
The hotels cannot really do that, because they don’t know how we may end up covering a trip. Just because an inbound is canceled, doesn’t mean we may not be sending in another crew on another flight, even another airline, to cover the next day.
We would occasionally get calls from panicked desk against asking us to release rooms, but it was rare that we could actually give them an answer. IROPS can be very fluid, and plans can and do change by the minute, based on what is, is not, or could be available.
I/we can do anything we want when the airline or crew management firm they've hired gives us wrong or no information. The contract stipulates what is communicated, how it's communicated, and when it's communicated with hard cutoffs.
You're making it sound like what's going on is routine. Schedules are so disrupted, and not due to irrops, that the airlines have lost control of the process. We have to have the name of each crew member and use the airline provided sign-in sheet to document their arrival for liability purposes. We can have a pilot/FO/FA's name changed half a dozen times within a 12 hour period with each change communicated in a programmatic e-mail. Lately we've been getting daily crew reports that have all the positions blank with the names provided (or not) throughout the day. Changes are made so frequently we'll get communication about a change on a crew member hours after we've already checked someone in. Or we'll check someone in and not have received any communication about their arrival prior to their checkout. We get cancels for crew we never had reservations for or expected in the first place. My company manages 1,500 hotels and this is the new normal.
As I said, I'm benevolent. Other hotels may not be and it's the airline or crew management company's fault if they are communicating outside the terms of their agreements and crew end up homeless. A hotel's last rooms are it's most valuable so if an airline needs to confirm their needs for that day by 6:00PM and they don't all bets are off and it's not hotel's fault they sold those rooms to someone else at a higher rate. Nor is it the hotel's responsibility to call the airline after the cutoff to see if they still need rooms; especially when those rooms could be sold for 2 to 3 times the price. It's a two-way street too because airlines show no mercy when it comes to cancelling rooms hotels hold for them and routinely they cancel :01 second before the cancel cutoff even though they knew those rooms weren't going to be used hours or days before. Hotel<>airline crew relationships are typically usurious, transactional, and sometimes even acrimonious. COVID doesn't help.
after reading your post I wondered, why do hotels bid for airline business? What would be in it for them? And yet, every airline manages to secure hotels in every city they have crews staying in. Even cities that seemingly have no shortage of business. Like airlines who offer corporate discounts and additional services to their large corporate accounts, I imagine their must be something in it for the hotels. Is the relationship with other corporate accounts as much of a community service as you imply it is to the hotels airline customers? You can't fault airlines for the hotels agreeing to contract terms that offer nothing to them. Possibly there's actually something in it for the hotels? Over the last year and a half I stayed at more than one hotel that was so grateful for their airline business as otherwise, they would have closed their doors completely.
My thoughts on this after retiring from 43 years of flying : I believe initially hotels wanted us because we could go out and spread good comments about our stay. If I flew a 3 day trip, I could have the ability to influence a lot of people just by visiting with them inflight.
We would always be able to stay ( for awhile)in a brand new, very nice hotel that is just getting going. It was very normal for us to eventually end up in another facility.
The hotels we stayed in got better as the years went by. I would say in the last decade and with new competition from sites like AIRBNB, they realized that they needed us more than they thought.
I will also just say that, overall, I don’t think hotels care for airline personnel. We could be demanding, arrogant and irresponsible. We have shot ourselves in the foot many times. Unpaid room service, multiple complaints about the room or demanding a different room and, most importantly, our wait time for the van to pick us up at the airport. Sometimes it would be an independent limo company (usually if it was a long layover downtown), but mainly it would be a specific van from that hotel. If you’ve had a 15 hour duty day and are scheduled for a 10 hour layover there isn’t a lot of time to play with ( when I left we had to have 8 hours “behind the door”). Most of the time the hotels did an excellent job. And don’t get me wrong. Most of the time the entire crew was patient and kind. I worked with so many great people i couldn’t even begin to count.
The front desk people took all the flak. They could see what the company was paying for each room. I am sure more than just a few of them became embittered because some of us acted like we belonged in the penthouse. Again, a minority.
I left before COVID so I can only imagine the increased level of tension on board ( mask compliance). That only makes for an increased level of exhaustion for everyone.
There have been some very eloquent explanations on here about the room booking process from the hotels perspective. I can honestly say that I empathize with them and with the crews. It is more difficult for me to feel that way toward the airline. Sure, the huge bailouts prevented them from having to let people go. I’m happy for those who are back at work. They are ecstatic. It is now the company that must fulfill its obligations to their employees.True,these problems are not the norm and COVID has made a mess of everything. That’s why a contingency plan should have been an ongoing part of the operation so the company would be prepared, or as prepared as was humanly possible. I am hopeful for positive solutions.